Tag Archives: Grand Rapids

Michigan International Auto Show and Charity Spectacular benefiting Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital



This weekend is the Michigan International Auto Show and it has it all — from practical to grandiose and even downright exotic; if you love cars — or just pretty/shiny things — you will be in heaven at the #grautoshow16!

Car manufacturers from around the world bring their finest traveling displays with new vehicles – including sedans, vans, SUV’s, trucks, hybrids and sports cars to Grand Rapids. Not only is the Auto Show a great place to shop and compare options for every day vehicles, it is also the first opportunity for West Michigan residents to see many of the most recently released or “soon to be released” models!

On Wednesday, we had the unique opportunity of getting a sneak preview of this weekend’s show at the Michigan International Auto Show Charity Spectacular benefiting Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. The event supported more than 20 different programs at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. During the event, guests explored hundreds of new vehicles on display while enjoying a delicious strolling dinner and a live Wolverine Worldwide Fashion Show.

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The excitement started as soon as we walked into DeVos Place. James Bond theme music was playing in the background and as the archway (the #grautoshow16 version of the red carpet) opened up, we encountered our first car – the Aston Martin DB9 GT.  The car displayed is one of only 150 made, and is the official car used in the lasted Bond flick, Spectre. There was even a photographer on the ready to snap our pic as we struck a pose! Continue reading Michigan International Auto Show and Charity Spectacular benefiting Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital

ArtPrize7 – what a wild ride it has been!


Have you ever been in a room where everyone else is just as excited or more to be right where you are? That’s what the ArtPrize awards party felt like!

Before the awards started the crowd was treated to the energy driven sound of Vox Vidorra (according to their website, the band’s name is a multilingual neologism and alliteration meaning ‘the voice of the life you’re meant to live’). Vox Vidorra played a funky blend of soul music that made us jump out of our seats and bust a move (the wine in my hand didn’t hurt either). The Civic Theatre was such a gorgeous setting for the award ceremony, the atmosphere was electric as the crowd buzzed while waiting for the ceremony to begin.

Rick DeVos made a grand entrance and stunned the crowd with a mind blowing fact — kids that were 6th graders for the first Artprize were now seniors in high school.  Rick let audience think about that for a minute as he  reflected on how each and every participant, artist, volunteer, and community member played a part in impacting those kids’ outlook on the community and art in general.  He expressed how he has enjoyed how ArtPrize makes conversations happen – the buzz that happens around the “must see” pieces, what people like and don’t like.  He mentioned that finding a way to include all members of the community in artistic discourse is what Artprize is all about, and that they truly succeeded this year.

Continue reading ArtPrize7 – what a wild ride it has been!

Go Forth and ArtPrize!


Despite chilly temps and overcast sky, hundreds of visitors filled Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids Sunday as ArtPrize Founder, Rick DeVos and Executive Director, Christian Gaines revealed the public’s top picks.

Top20-1Consumers Energy kicked the event off with the announcement of the winner of the  Consumers Energy SmartArt student ArtPrize Competion. The competition, in its third year, is a collaboration between Consumers Energy and Grand Rapids Public Schools. SmartArt stands for “Students Making Art with a Renewable Theme.” Students were asked to use renewable energy and energy efficiency as themes in their entries. Zoe Bultman received Best in Show from three judges. She received an Apple laptop computer and a $1,000 college scholarship from Consumers Energy.Top20-4Top20-6The first round of ArtPrize public voting came to an end at 11:59 PM, October 3rd. 30,994 visitors had cast 377,302 votes for art, elevating five artist entries from each category — 2-D, 3-D, Installation and Time-Based. These 20 ArtPrize Seven entries will now move on to the second round of voting, with the chance of winning over $200,000 in cash awards.

Gains and Rick DeVos took the stage to introduce the twenty artist entries selected from among 1,550 eligible works.Top20-7Many of the artists and their supporters were present, and as the advancing artists were announced, spots of the crowd would burst into cheers and excited shouts of congratulations! The excitement was palpable, so much so that it was hard not to cheer even if you didn’t personally know any of the artists. Continue reading Go Forth and ArtPrize!

Reception Welcomes Law Firm, Talcott Franklin P.C. to Grand Rapids l Acquisition of Jordan C. Hoyer Firm Celebrated



On Monday, June 22nd, SF joined a reception at City Flats Ballroom welcoming the new Grand Rapids law firm, Talcott Franklin P.C., formed by the recent acquisition of the Law Office of Jordan C. Hoyer, PLLC. Talcott Franklin P.C. is a national law firm, based in Dallas, Texas and its Grand Rapids office is the firm’s first expansion into Michigan.


Talcott Franklin P.C. is a national law firm known for its innovative strategies taking on the money center banks over the sophisticated investment vehicles that caused the financial crisis.

Attorney Talcott Franklin, author of the two leading treatises on financial crisis legislation and litigation, was interviewed during the reception by Attorney Curt Benson, co-host of the WOOD Radio program “The Lawyers” on 106.9 FM. The segment will be aired on “The Lawyers” on Sunday, June 28.





According to Talcott Franklin, “Despite the beginnings of economic recovery and the rebounding housing market, the deep-rooted structural failures of our mortgage system remain, and the potential looms for an even more cataclysmic financial crisis. We are tracking the warning signs of the next financial crisis.” Franklin’s comments offered specific insights to the connection of West Michigan to the national and international mortgage and investment markets.




Talcott Franklin P.C. is a national law firm known for its innovative strategies, which have been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal business section, Bloomberg, Reuters, and MSNBC. The firm specializes in deciphering and explaining complex transactions and has litigated some of the most high profile cases stemming from the financial crisis.

The firm has a unique business model, eschewing the traditional practice of relying on new law school graduates in favor of hiring seasoned attorneys who typically have worked in house or in government before joining the firm. Because the majority of the firm’s attorneys have been consumers of legal services, they understand that law is a service-oriented profession.

The Talcott Franklin P.C. Michigan office includes: Jordan C. Hoyer, Curt Benson and Derek Witte.



First Timer’s Review of Founder’s Fest 2015


Founder’s Fest is anything but “just another beer festival.”  While this was my first time attending the event, it certainly was not my first time enjoying Founder’s Brewing Co. brews and bands – Founder’s Fest was the culmination of everything good in the Founder’s world. One of the highlights of the festival for me was seeing the diverse cross-section of attendees.  I lived in Colorado for about five years and that is a place that takes music festivals pretty seriously. Founder’s Fest felt like I was at a music festival back in the mountains; bringing together people from all walks of life, spanning the generations, they have created a community with a sense of consciousness for serving a greater good.

 The People.

It seems like everyone in Grand Rapids was at the festival!  I ran into so many friends, and saw people of all ages and professions enjoying great music and awesome beers together.  I made a point of speaking with some of the other festival goers and met a couple guys that had come from Asheville, North Carolina to attend the event – a father-in-law and son-in-law.  Even while extolling the virtues of their runner up “beer city” they clearly enjoyed coming to Grand Rapids and had great respect for the crafting done in West Michigan. After grabbing beers we enjoyed what shade we could find and the antics of performers strolling through the crowd; everywhere you looked there was something to see! There were also the more “mature” audience members that had brought their own chairs and set up near the back of the crowd, allowing for the 20-somethings to push towards the front to catch their favorite bands up-close.  




The Bands.

Speaking of the bands, another impressive aspect is that you rarely had to endure downtime without live music playing.  There were two stages set up in close proximity to each other, and as one band was finishing up a set on one stage, the next band was warming up on the other.  The variety of music was clearly aimed at providing something for everyone, and they succeeded. I heard everything from the FBC All-Stars covering Rage Against the Machine and Pink Floyd, to Elephant Revival which included a woman playing the washboard and a saw. Rounding it out was the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at the end of the night, the weather managed to hold so none of the acts were rained out (although the rain might have been nice, it was a concrete jungle out there). But hey, at least when it’s warm outside the beer tastes even more refreshing! 




The Beer.

The beer . . . oh, the beer!  If you’re not a beer drinker, you could still attend this festival and have a great time listening to the music alone… But let’s not kid ourselves – the beer is definitely the highlight!  Prior to attending i saw online that people had problems thinking they would spend all night waiting in line and paying $10 for a beer they could get any other time for $4.  That was not the case on either account. The most I paid for a beer was $6 and the longest I waited in line was about 20 minutes – and that was for a KBS!  We were standing in line for specialty beers (which was a separate line from the “regular” Founder’s beers), I was planning to have a CBS but the keg ran out about five people before us.  We were lucky enough (IMHO) to get some of the fresh KBS that was tapped to replace the CBS!  The traditional Founder’s beers were the same price as what you could get in the tap room – $4 – $6 each – and I never waited in line for more than 5 – 10 minutes for one of those.  If you were at any other festival, you would likely be paying $7+ for a Bud Light; to anyone who was complaining about having to spend money on both a ticket and beer, you obviously do not go to many music festivals. 




The Layout.

Overall, this festival was run very well and the layout provided for a great flow.  When we first walked up there was a line to get in – however, they had about six lines and they had an assembly line-like set up so they were able to move people through quickly.  There was a good sized ticket booth and beer tent right at the entrance, then another around the corner – both had lines that that went quickly and kept people moving.  The whole area was set up in an “L” shape, and the bands were in the corner – this meant you could be almost anywhere and have a view of the stage and hear the bands . . . and with a beer tent at each end, you didn’t have to wander far for refreshments either.  My one complaint would be that all of the port-a-johns were at one end – while this may have been good to concentrate the smell and all that, it would have been nice to have a small row near the entrance/exit. 



The Vendors.

I did not eat at the festival, but I did note that there were food booths.  I saw that Slows BBQ was there and I saw people walking around with Gyros.  The vendors that really impressed me were the ones selling “stuff.”  The festival focused on having local entrepreneurs – there were no booths selling carnival-type-flashy-thingy-loud-hats-and-stupid-shirts; there were booths with beautiful locally made items.  You could get clothing, but it was sustainable/recycled and made by a small business, there were wood working pieces, leather items, paintings, and there were not so many that you felt like you were at a craft show.  It was just right in the variety, originality, and quantity.

I will be back at this festival again! It was a great time, I saw people I knew from all parts of my life, made some new friends, had some excellent beers and listened to some fantastic music. The festival was well run and set up, I didn’t spend the entire time waiting in line, and didn’t spend any more on drinks than I would’ve in a normal night out at Founder’s.  It was a great event and a great way to celebrate this awesome Beer City USA town that we are lucky enough to live in!

West Michigan PMI delivered over $5K in prizes to student project managers


How will 15 teams of talented Michigan college students solve one of the state’s most pressing educational challenges? That was the question at the heart of THE Project.

The West Michigan chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI) hosted its annual Inter-Collegiate Competition at the Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville on Monday, April 13, 2015. This year’s event was dubbed THE Project — The Higher Education Project. Student teams from 11 Michigan colleges presented proposals and plans to improve the affordability of higher education in Michigan. Area hiring managers and PMI members attended two public components of the day-long event: 1) a reverse job fair featuring student project managers and 2) an evening networking/dinner program announcing the $5,000 winner of the competition. The evening program also included a keynote address by Michigan Lieutenant Governor, Brian Calley.

Dematic North America and Spectrum Health were sponsors for the annual event. But why a project management competition and reverse career fair?

Project management skills are critical for organizations, explained Andrew Gill, head of Software Application Engineering at Dematic North America in Grand Rapids.

Dematic is a global company. We essentially live or die on project management. Everything that we do regarding how we deliver our systems to our customers — it’s all in project form. Without project managers and the art and science of project management, we really don’t survive as a business.”

THE Project showcased the importance of project management and PMI to the West Michigan business community.


“PMI supports the project management profession,” said Gill. “That’s hugely important to us. We put a lot of credence in that Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. We require all of our project managers to attain that certification. It obviously makes sense to support an organization locally that supports our project managers.”

The competition also serves to introduce a younger generation to project management as a viable career track. In his introductory address, Brian Krajewski, the Director of Enterprise Portfolio Management at Spectrum Health, said that WMPMI has developed a great learning opportunity that allows collegiate students to engage their right and left brains while developing “shovel ready” projects that will address “real opportunities” in our state. Krajewski explained that Spectrum Health chose to be THE Project sponsor to “…create a pipeline of talent streaming into our organization.  We need to expose students early in their careers to the opportunities in healthcare, in technology, in project management and in West Michigan.”





PMI member Brian Gleason, Campus Director at University of Phoenix, has played a key role in recruiting mentors for the annual competition. He sees THE Project as a way to give students needed experience and mentorship with project management.

“There is no younger generation of PMPs,” said Gleason. “If a company wants a project manager, they either go out and get an existing project manager or they don’t have one. There is no grooming of younger people to get into project management. PMI and THE Project helps fill that gap.”

Students and mentors take months to prepare for the grueling competition. Many sign up as early as September to form teams. On the day of the event, each team presented to a panel of Michigan business leaders for judgement. The first place team won $5,000, second place $3,000, third place $2,000, and fourth place $1,000.

Event coordinator Jeff Kissinger, Senior Project Manager at Grand Rapids Community College, noted that the experience of the competition remains the biggest reward for the students. Students who have this competition on their resume, he said, demonstrate that they have powerful project management and team experience.

“It’s a lot of work for students,” Kissinger said. “I have so much respect for them, because they really work to get this done and done right. The (PMI) panelists are very picky. They are following the rule book to the T. They really make the students work. And the mentors? They go out of their way to help the students.”

That’s why West Michigan companies looking for high caliber recent grads that have exposure to project management methodologies eagerly attended the reverse career fair. Over 80 students who participated in THE Project sat in booths and interviewed with hiring managers and recruiters.

“This is not only a group of high caliber students, but they’ve had at least four months of  exposure to what project management is all about,” said Gleason. “They’ve put together a portfolio of work, essentially. That’s a unique thing for a recent grad.”

And as an IT recruiter mentioned about her experience with the reverse career fair: “It’s nice to be on the other side of the table for a change.”

Beyond the excitement of a high-stakes competition and the reverse career fair, the theme of THE Project offered a strong draw for the business community.

“Last year, the theme of the competition was all about supporting the veterans,” said Andrew Gill. “That resonated very strongly with Dematic. This year, it’s all about improving higher education. Keeping our talent in Michigan. That resonates with us as well. It’s not just the chapter, it’s also the business problems that students are trying to solve as part of the competition.

The future of project management as a career track is bright. THE Project brings awareness of project management and PMI to both students and the West Michigan business community.



The year, the top prize went to the student team at Cornerstone University. Madison Drew, James Hardman, Nathan Mahoney, and Julia Martin took home the $5,000 prize.  For more details about membership and the opportunities the West Michigan Project Management Institute brings to our community, visit http://wmpmi.org. Also, be sure to LIKE them on Facebook for their latest updates!

Spoonlickers Stands Apart from FroYo Crowd with its Unique Made-from-Scratch Toppings


GRAND RAPIDS – You walk into any frozen yogurt or ice cream shop anywhere and the toppings are all the same: prepackaged, processed, canned or bulk-purchased items full of additives and preservatives.

Spoonlickers Handcrafted Frozen Yogurt dares to be different.

At each of their three locations, co-owners and co-founders Dianna and David Darling insist upon fresh-baked, scratch-made and locally sourced toppings that customers won’t find anywhere else. It’s all part of the farm-to-table – or, perhaps, kitchen-to-spoon – concept the Darlings have brought to frozen desserts.

“It goes right from here to there – kitchen to spoon,” baker Alecia Fanning said of the Spoonlickers’ uncompromising approach to scratch-made toppings using the freshest ingredients. “A lot of people are a lot more conscious of it. I think people are more willing to pay a little extra for that if it’s homemade stuff, rather than if it was made in a factory or mass produced or came from a machine.

“I think the love goes into it,” she added. “They can tell it’s a much better product.”




It’s all about quality at Spoonlickers, with its signature chocolate ganache, butterscotch, homemade granola, scratch-made brownies, cookies, pumpkin pie, whoopie pies, cinnamon streusel crumble and marshmallow squares. It grinds the peanuts for its peanut-butter sauce. It toasts its own coconut.

No one in the industry comes close to that sort of freshness.

“A lot of people don’t do it, so, for us, it’s especially unique, just knowing a lot of what us bakers make is from scratch,” said Grace Tuttle, a junior supervisor at Spoonlickers who preceded Fanning as baker. “I think it is important to a lot of people. There is a difference in quality a lot of the time.

“It’s just about knowing that you’re eating something homemade or local products, it’s just different than getting it from wherever,” she said. “I’ve been to several of the frozen yogurt stores. I think when you go around and sample them, you can really tell the difference. I can immediately tell when I try other places that it’s a dry powder mixed with water.

“It’s a lot better here.”


The proof is in the pantry and refrigerator at Spoonlickers’ flagship Eastown store at 1551 Wealthy St. in Grand Rapids. Top-shelf ingredients, such as couverture chocolate and Nielsen Massey vanilla, go into making ganache and buttercream, respectively. Farm-fresh eggs, King flour milled in Lowell and Meijer brown sugar are examples of locally sourced items Spoonlickers’ baking staff uses.

All of the milk and cream used in production of its soft-serve frozen yogurt and baked goods comes from southwestern Michigan dairy farms, which results in a freshness its customers truly can taste.

No compromises. No cutting corners. Period.

“Everything we can buy locally, we do,” David Darling said. “All of the milk, all of the dairy for our yogurts and gelatos, it comes from southwest Michigan. People love the fact that we toast our own coconut.

“We have never wavered. The reason we do this is, because if we don’t, nobody else will,” he said. “It makes us different. It’s so much better because we control what’s going in (these toppings).”

For example, Spoonlickers uses only couverture chocolate for its ganache.

It has a higher percentage of cocoa butter than regular chocolate. Sure, it costs more, but the difference is quality is worth it.

“It’s the reason our ganache is as good as it is. We don’t cut any costs when it comes to the quality of ingredients,” David Darling insisted.

The objective is using the fewest ingredients of the highest quality to achieve unprecedented results.

It requires keeping a close watch on inventory, since many of the ingredients have a shorter shelf life than other packaged and processed FroYo and ice cream toppings at national chain stores.

The staff gets its fresh fruits, whenever possible, from Grand Rapids Downtown Market or Fulton Street Farmers Market.

“Sixty-five percent of what’s kept on the shelf is raw ingredient,” David Darling estimated.

The commitment to using the freshest and highest-quality ingredients is a reflection of what’s happening in the farm-to-table dining movement, as well as the craft beer and independently distilled spirits industries.

Earlier this year, the Darlings posted an item on the company website at www.spoonlickersgr.com that challenged the status quo when it comes to sacrificing freshness and quality for inferior mass-produced toppings. It sparked a profound dialogue and more than a thousand responses.

“I’m not sure all of our customers understand what we do and why we do it, but a lot of them do,” David Darling said. “It’s why they tell us, ‘You have to do our wedding, our children’s birthday parties and other events.’

“It really matters to people.”

It is a constant source of pride for the Spoonlickers’ kitchen staff.

Fanning, 27, a recent graduate of the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College, uses her own hands to make and bake everything from puppy chow to pie crusts.

“It definitely adds a lot more enjoyment to what you do, especially because they don’t cut any corners here. They’re using real ingredients, like real butter, not shortening. That makes it a lot more enjoyable,” she said.

“You just make sure it’s made right.”

Tuttle, 21, of Kentwood, said the same commitment goes into making larger cakes, which can be ordered for special occasions or purchased from the freezers located in all three Spoonlickers’ stores.




“I don’t know of any other frozen yogurt places that make homemade cakes. We make the batter, we freeze the yogurt, mold it all together, make our own frosting, make our own chocolate ganache for it, and decorate it all by hand,” said Tuttle, who’s pursuing a degree in food and beverage management at Grand Valley State University. ‘That takes a lot of time. There are a lot of local homemade products going into that cake.

“I think that’s pretty unique. I don’t know of other ice cream places that bake their own homemade cookies or homemade brownies,” she added. “I don’t know of anyone else that quite does that.”

David Darling refers to Fanning and Tuttle as the “rock stars” of the operation.

Both says they’re delighted to be part of a local business that does things the right way for the right reasons.

“I think it’s something we should talk about a lot more,” Tuttle said. “People hear ‘homemade’ and think that’s cool, but a lot of them don’t realize that what we’re actually making … they’re eating. That’s something really unique. I don’t know of any other frozen yogurt places or ice cream places that do that.”

Community leader Don Tack to receive Guiding Light Mission’s inaugural Good Samaritan Award

BY: Sparkly Stellafly
PHOTOS: Dianne Carroll Burdick

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.  ~ Proverbs 19:17

It is often said that actions speak louder than words.

In 1991, a Pastor and college professor by the name of Don Tack became frustrated by the lack of emphasis on relationships with poor people in Grand Rapids.

He didn’t just talk about it, though. He took action.

And while Don Tack has never done anything for accolades, he will be recognized for his tremendous community efforts when he receives Guiding Light Mission’s inaugural Good Samaritan Award at their Annual Banquet on October 9, 2014 at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

One of his first actions was developing a training course for lay people, a combination of both classroom and field work that would teach them Biblical foundations for helping the poor. Tack offered the course for $45, and after a couple weeks of promoting it, registration was only at four people. With the help of Grand Rapids Press religion writer Ed Golder who wrote a compelling story about what Tack was attempting to do, registration quickly rose to 43 people for the first class in May of 1991.

At the end of the semester, Tack challenged members of the class to complete a weekend “field assignment” and spend a weekend on the street, living as if they were homeless. They could bear no evidence that they were not homeless, and would sleep in shelters, eat food at the missions and fully experience what the poor community was living on a daily basis. Tack’s class project turned into a front page story in the Grand Rapids Press and greatly helped elevate his cause in the community. This effort was the beginning of what is now known as Servants Center, an organization started by Tack as a result of his concern about the drift of churches away from having direct relationships with the poor.




Servants Center Opens its Doors
During the time that Tack and his class spent in their field work, the class was split into two groups. One stayed at Mel Trotter and the other at Guiding Light Mission. Tack had heard talk of disparaging conditions at Guiding Light Mission and elected to stay there to see it firsthand. Sadly, the talk was true—from urine on the floor to violence between those staying there, to abusive treatment by the staff.

Witnessing this made him even more determined to help this population to be treated as humanely as possible. He wanted to make sure they had appropriate housing and people around them who made them feel loved. Don Tack officially opened Servants Center in 1993 for the purpose of enhancing the reputation of Christ among the poor and homeless by providing a high quality relationship-based street outreach to mentally ill poor and homeless in Grand Rapids.

With the help of a husband and wife who knew of Tack’s work, he was able to purchase the first rooming house for clients of Servants Center. The house, located on Coit NE, served as a model for churches to use in aiding the homeless. As Tack continued to expand his ministry, the media paid attention, with his work being included in papers from Detroit to Rotterdam, Holland.

In 1996 the Servant’s Center became a 501(c)3, and eventually partnered with Dwelling Place to handle the housing. The staff of Servants Center began to focus on taking people into Social Security to apply for benefits. Then, they took it one step further and began taking guardianship of these individuals, which gave them the ability to fill out their paperwork and help with applications for government benefits. Word spread of their work, and they began to receive more requests for guardians.

As Servants Center matured, the organization began to focus on one exclusive population, poor and homeless individuals suffering from neurological diseases such as schizophrenia. Some of these individuals had been living on the streets for 20 or more years without their medication. The work with this population was much more labor intensive and often resulted in less success, but Tack felt it was the most necessary for this vulnerable population.


Servants Center Continues On
In 2000, Servants Center received a tremendous boost to their efforts when they were awarded a grant for $100,000. This allowed them to care for 75 people and hire staff including an account manager and a social worker. Clients were staying in adult foster care homes, some in their own apartments, and there was a small percentage that could not be placed because of their backgrounds. These individuals stayed at places including the YMCA, Heartside Manor, and the Morton House—all of which have ceased to exist. But this ministry continues their work and is continuing to find housing solutions in addition to finding employment, helping to manage bills and finances, and working with churches to guide them on helping this population. They host events including Sunday messages, training seminars, and consulting services.

Don Tack retired three years ago and Servants Center continues the work he began. The organization now has a staff of four who manage between 40-50 clients each, continuing their street patrols and receiving an average of one request per day for their services. Tack has continued his ministry through Poverty Ministry Consulting, which serves to help “teach and equip churches to develop Biblical outreach to poor people in any setting—urban, suburban and rural.”

We can all honor Don Tack’s efforts by taking a moment to reflect on the gifts we have been given and look at how we can reach out to help those who need it most. Let’s all follow his example by taking action when we see needs that are unmet.

The Boatwright – a play by Bo Wilson


The Boatwright. Only two actors and the entire story takes place in the garage around a boat. A really good story.” Robert Wilcox, while photographing dress rehearsal.

With over 38 plays under his belt, professional award winning playwright, Bo Wilson, is no novice to the stage. His current play, The Boatwright, is making its premier debut for the first time on any stage in Grand Rapids at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. Starting this evening, Sept. 12, 2014, this new play arrives in our community just in time for the ArtPrize kick off. Although this play is not considered an ArtPrize entry, it’s another wonderful new addition to the art world and will be showcased on the Civic Theatre’s stage.

The Boatwright is a 2 person, 3 character play about a widowed retired police officer, Ben, his neighbor’s son, Jaime, and a boat that they set out to build together. All three characters create an unexpected bond all while discovering the trials and tribulations of building a boat fit to sail across the Atlantic Ocean.




“At some point in everyone’s life we all want a boat, we all are looking for a way to get away,” according to Wilson. “At the middle point of many people’s lives they feel compelled to push themselves, some run and some take up boating.” says Bo.

Although I don’t consider myself quite middle aged yet, I can certainly relate to reaching a point in my life and asking, is this all that I am ever going to do?  Is this the life I want to be leading? About two years ago I took up running. Like the main character, Ben, in the play, I felt the need to push myself, look at the world from another vantage point.

Wilson purposefully made his characters generationally different instead of portraying them as peers because he felt they’d be more interesting to the audience. He wanted to create the dynamic between an older, middle class personality and a younger, technology driven young man for an interesting contrast. Wilson says,“ The play is funny but not a comedy.” The audience is sure to see many humorous nods at technology and how its effect shows up in these two characters from different generations.


The third character of the play is a boat. Five different boats were designed and created for Civics’ production of The Boatwright. Nancy Brozek, Civic Theatre’s Director of Development and Community Relations said’ “The boat is an interesting anchoring point between the two men.”

While Wilson’s own experiences with boating does not go much beyond tooling around once on a 10ft sea snark of his own and reading Treasure Island. He too can relate well to the character relationship dynamic because his own son Zack James, was 15 when Wilson wrote the play.

Civic Theater is known for amazing 60 plus person casts staring in larger than life exuberant musicals and Bruce Tinker, the executive and artistic director, hopes to bring another flavor to the stage with this two person cast play. The same amount of researching went into their decision to bring Mary Poppins and South Pacific to the stage.  This year’s dedication to a terrific season,

Grand Rapids has been wowed with many well-known musicals and plays and the Civic Theatre hopes that its community continues to trust us to bring less known, but just as talented art to the stage that will entertain them.”, says TinkerWilson’s goal is to have his audience enjoy the characters, Ben and Jamie, because he wrote them to characters that might be a guy you know.

For upcoming performances: The Boatwright runs now through September 25th.
For tickets: http://www.grct.org/memberoptions.html